- June 13, 2018
Fossil Fuels: Pope criticizes fossil fuel extraction, Coal crunch shuts down power plants, Sharp rise in Asian coal imports
Pope Francis sharply critical of fossil fuel extraction, Leaders continue to back coal and oil
Pope Francis was scathingly critical of continued fossil fuel extraction at the Vatican Climate Conference – warning that using fossil fuels to provide energy access must not come at the cost of destroying civilization itself. He also likened the transition to cleaner energy to an “epochal challenge” and warned the attendees – CEO’s of the world’s largest oil & gas and investment firms – against “ever-increasing extraction, consumption and waste”.
However the UK based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has found that the G7 member nations were yet to define a concrete roadmap to end their billions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. Meanwhile the Trump administration is trying to bail out increasingly uncompetitive American coal (and nuclear energy) fired power plants, citing a threat to grid stability and national security.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau has also bizarrely justified his CA$4.5bn purchase of a Kinder Morgan oil sands pipeline, saying that Canada would fight climate change by responsibly exporting oil extracted from tar sands to new markets. Tar sands are the world’s dirtiest source of oil and developing the resource could increase global CO2 emissions by up to 150 million tons/year by 2030.
Jharkhand’s energy policy tweak for Adani Power could cost the state more than Rs. 7,000cr
A special investigation has revealed that the Jharkand state govt. tweaked its energy policy in 2016 to allow Adani Power Ltd. to charge a premium for the power it would retail from its Godda thermal power plant. The plant is meant to retail power to power-hungry Bangladesh, but Jharkand is legally entitled to 25% of the plant’s output, procuring which – under the tweaked energy policy – will allegedly cost the state an excess of Rs. 7,410 cr (approximately $1.14bn).
Low coal stocks shut down power plant, Coal rushed to Delhi to avoid blackout
Acute shortage of coal has forced the 700MW unit of the 2X700MW Rajpura thermal power plant in Punjab to be shut down. The plant’s owner – Nabha Power – has squarely blamed it on Coal India Ltd. (CIL) prioritizing supplies to govt. owned power stations and only supplying 75% of the contracted tonnage to the plant. 3000MW of thermal power in Gujarat – facing perilously low coal stocks of less than a day’s worth – may also face a shutdown.
Meanwhile coal was rushed to NTPC’s Badarpur and Dadri thermal power stations (around Delhi NCR) under top priority to avert a possible blackout, as Delhi clocked a record high peak demand of 6,651 MW under intense heatwave conditions. Peak demand may even breach 7,000MW under rising temperatures, and before monsoon showers reach the city.
CIL on its part has ramped up coal output by 15.7% (year-on-year) this fiscal to meet summer’s peak demands, and has requested that power plants within 20km of coal mines arrange supplies by road alone for faster offtake. Additionally the Indian Railways has beefed up coal loading by 19% (y-o-y) to 431.5 rakes/day to quell the coal supply crisis.
Asian coal imports surge under summer heat, China considers importing more US coal
Thermal coal prices shot up to $112.05/ton at the Newcastle Index (Australia) under a cumulative surge of 16.1 million tons in imports this year from China, India, Japan and South Korea. The figure is driven primarily by record high summer power demand – particularly in India and China – and has breached February 2018’s record high of $110.60/ton.
China is also considering increasing its imports of US coal (90% of which is currently metallurgical) to lessen its $375bn trade deficit with the latter. However the country has already posted a 4% increase in carbon emissions for the first quarter of 2018 (compared to Jan – March 2017), and India’s West Bengal is reportedly keen to fully exploit the 2,102 million tons of coal reserves from the world’s second largest coalfields in Birbhum. Together this could heavily undermine global carbon emissions reductions achieved so far.